Royal Grammar School


More Government Nonsense!

More Government Nonsense!

They’re at it again! Today saw publication of Government’s draft (unconfirmed) GCSE league tables. These show the RGS scoring zero on key indicators, and low scores on others – all because the government chooses either not to recognise the International GCSEs (iGCSE) followed by the RGS and many other independent schools (including such top names as Eton and St Paul’s, to take two at random!) or because it does not include any independent schools in its new (and controversial) “Progress 8” measure.

Government-created statistical nonsenses are as follows:

   Percentage achieving five passes at grades A-C including English and Maths: government figure 0%; true RGS figure 99.3%

   Percentage achieving Government’s EBacc measure (based on five subjects to include English, maths, science, modern languages, history, geography but excluding popular RGS GCSEs such as economics, art, music, drama, design and technology etc): government figure 0%; true RGS figure 88% 

   Average grade per student based on best eight qualifications: government figure E; true RGS grade A/A* (about half-way between the two)

   Attainment 8 measure (points score based on the best eight subjects with double points for maths and English language): government figure 35.48; true RGS figure 60.1

   Progress 8 measure (from Key stage through attainment data through to GCSE): no government figure published for independent schools because relatively few independent school pupils sit Key Stage 2 SATS.

Frankly, I almost start to welcome these barmy government figures because it shows their tables for the nonsense they are. Government creates one arbitrary measure after another. The subjects which qualify for the so-called EBacc simply reflect former Education Secretary Michael Gove’s personal preferences of a few years ago. They are causing real difficulty for pupils whose schools feel pressured by government into insisting that they choose GCSEs only from EBacc subjects instead of playing to their strengths and interests across the full range: I’m just pleased that our students have greater choice and aren’t bamboozled by this arbitrarily created non-benchmark.

The other figures are simply crazy. In its eccentric choice of “approved” subjects, Government refuses to acknowledge our preferred iGCSE qualifications in maths, English language, biology, chemistry, physics, economics, history and design technology. Yet for some reason they do accept iGCSEs in English literature and is the logic in that?   Fortunately, parents, employers and universities know that all these qualifications are entirely valid and valuable. Government is playing a curious game here in which the iGCSE qualifications that it chooses to recognise or not change without rhyme or reason from one year to another. Fortunately for us here at the RGS, our position and reputation are sufficiently secure to allow us to choose the courses and qualifications that best suit the boys and girls who will thrive on them here. Parents know that, and support us.   Meanwhile, while many or most of the top-performing independent schools in the country are apparently downgraded via these ridiculous figures, Government simply conspires to make a nonsense of its own league tables.   Actually, that’s fine by us: parents need to ignore government tables which are entirely selective in the information they use and are misleading at best. Instead, if they wish to compare schools, parents need only to look in detail at the individual results published by schools and make their own judgments: that’s as true here at the RGs as anywhere else.   As always, parents know far better than government.   Bernard Trafford Headmaster